Alcatel-Lucent goes for raw router speed title with 400 Gb/s chip
New network processor supports 400 Gb/s packet processing, will hit vendor’s router portfolio early next year
The “big router” battles continued today, with Alcatel-Lucent introducing a new network processor – the innards of its next-generation routers – capable of supporting up to 400 Gb/s network speeds.
Debuting in a global press conference this morning (teased with a Hollywood-production value video at the URL topsecretspeed.com), the new technology follows equally splashy launches by Cisco (CP: Cisco blows out network edge with more bandwidth, virtualization) and Juniper (CP: http://connectedplanetonline.com/business_services/news/juniper-boasts-big-router-upgrade-1115/) in recent months as the big three high-end router vendors vie to meet service provider needs for 100 Gb/s Ethernet links in their core networks, between data centers and out to the occasional big enterprise customer.
Alcatel-Lucent has been making notable gains in router market share (CP: Alcatel-Lucent continues climb in carrier router market), but more at the network edge than the core. The FP3 represents a major stake in the ground in trying to win high-end service provider business in the network core. To that end, existing Alcatel-Lucent router customers Verizon, BT and NTT all inked “endorsement” quotes for the new processor, backing ALU’s direction if not directly committing to commercial deployments.
Alcatel-Lucent said its new FP3 processor is capable of handling 70,000 simultaneous high-def video streams or 8.4 million “cloud sessions.” While laying down the foundation for future 400 Gb/s networks, the FP3 will initially be delivered as a faster processor engine driving density up and costs down for Alcatel-Lucent’s 100 Gb/s Ethernet interface routers, notably its 7750 Service Router, Lindsay Newell, head of ALU product marketing, said in an interview.
“Typically, what the industry has done is take a 10 Gb/s network processor and port it to a 10 Gb/s interface,” said Newell. Meanwhile, a 40 Gb/s interface will typically use 4x10Gb/s processors. Those additional components require more power and memory and just generally lose some efficiency, Newell said. By backing a 10 Gb/s or 100 Gb/s interface with a processor capable of 400 Gb/s throughput, “the fundamental advantage is network efficiency and density gains,” Newell said, as well as “a clear path to 400 Gb/s [interfaces] as it becomes standardized.”
The FP3 chipset represents the industry’s first announced 400 Gb/s network processor; 100 Gb/s Ethernet router interfaces were standardized in 2010 and are just finding their way into carrier networks now. According to Dell'Oro Group, 100GE port shipments are expected to grow in excess of 200 percent annually, between now and 2015. As network bandwidth demands skyrocket, 400 Gb/s router interfaces may start to arrive sooner than expected, however.
Alcatel-Lucent executives positioned the FP3 announcement as a show of technology leadership, joining with its lightRadio radio access network advances announced earlier this year (CP: Alcatel-Lucent new building-block architecture does away with the base station)and another planned technology announcement – as a guess, likely in the optical transport area – slated for later this fall. The vendor has been working to find its financial footing for several years, but router and optical market share expansion, a strong Q1 with 15% profit growth and a leading-edge technology story find it marching on more solid ground in recent quarters.
Alcatel-Lucent’s Newell stressed that the vendor’s 400 Gb/s processor isn’t designed for “specialty” applications like data center or low latency but will soon be the workhorse in carrier core (and ultimately edge) networks weighted down with video, cloud and growing mobile data traffic demands.
FP-3 based line cards for the ALU’s 7750 SR will be commercially available in 2-port 100GE, 6-port 40GE, and 20-port 10GE configurations in 2012. Alcatel-Lucent is working with an “ecosystem” of silicon vendors to deliver the new technology, including Samsung Semiconductor, NetLogic Microsystems, Micron, GSI Technology, Cypress and Broadcom.
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© 2013 Penton Media Inc.
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